Panetta praises Turkish role in Afghanistan
Talking to visiting Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yildiz at the Pentagon, Panetta assured his guest of America's commitment to a strong security relationship with Turkey, praised its contributions to the training mission in Afghanistan and pledged to continue assisting in earthquake relief efforts.
Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain John Kirby said the two leaders also discussed a broad range of mutually significant security issues, to include defence-industrial cooperation, foreign military sales, the common threat of terrorism and regional challenges.
Meanwhile, the US reiterated that any reconciliation process needs to be led by the Afghan government.
Efforts are on to get Afghan’s neighboring countries in the same direction under an Afghan-led and within the redlines and constraints that the Afghans have put out, supported by the US, the State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said.
If there are fighters -- junior-level, medium- level, senior-level -- willing to come off the battlefield, they have to make absolutely clear they are breaking their ties with Al Qaeda, they are prepared to support the constitution of Afghanistan in all of its elements, including its support for the rights of women, and they are renouncing violence, she added.
“We've been talking for at least two years about supporting Afghan-led reconciliation within these redlines. I think the issue here is trying to help the Afghans and the Pakistanis be on the same page with regard to the parameters of talking at the same time that we are making sure that, as we talk about talking, that those who are not willing to reconcile know that the Afghans, with our support, are going to keep fighting them and that we're pressing the Pakistanis to also squeeze them,” Nuland said.
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